Shutdown Corner - NFL

AFC First-Round Byes:
Indianapolis Colts
Denver Broncos

Other AFC Divisional Champions:
Pittsburgh Steelers
New England Patriots

AFC Wild Cards:
Cincinnati Bengals
Houston Texans

NFC First-Round Byes:
New Orleans Saints
Minnesota Vikings

Other NFC Divisional Champions:
New York Giants
San Francisco 49ers

NFC Wild Cards:
Atlanta Falcons
Green Bay Packers

See last week's absurdly premature playoff picture here.

• The top two spots in the AFC remain the same; even solidified. It doesn't seem like anyone else wants it.

• The NFC has a change among the first-round byes, though, as the Giants drop out in favor of the Vikings. I'm not dropping the Giants because they lost to the Saints -- I'm dropping them because they didn't compete against the Saints. I believe they can compete, and I'm 100% in support of a rematch sometime in late January, but what happened on Sunday was a flat-out beating. And it made Richard Seymour very happy.

• When I started this thing, I had the Bengals winning the AFC North and the Steelers as the Wild Card. That probably makes more sense, since they're tied with 4-2 records, and the Bengals won the head-to-head game, but as you can see, I flipped them. I just can't ignore that the Steelers have more going for them. They're allowing 74.5 rushing yards per game, and their quarterback seems unstoppable right now. It's extremely close, but ... sorry, Bengals. My head says Steelers, and is quite adamant about it.

• We've got a new face among the AFC Wild Cards: the Houston Texans! Yay! Welcome Texans!

• Here's why: There's a group three-loss teams who can make the argument for inclusion. The Jets, Ravens, Jags, Texans, and even the Dolphins are in play. It was the Jets last week, but it can't be them this week, because they just lost to Buffalo, for Fouts's sake. The Ravens have lost their last three, so they're out. The Jags' last two wins have come against Tennessee and St. Louis, with a 41-0 loss to Seattle in between, so I'm far from sold on them. Miami is still too ... I dunno, Henne-ish? So I'm going to go with the Texans, who seem to be trending upward, and have a quarterback playing some of the best ball in the league.

• Two new faces in the NFC, too: the Falcons and the Packers. The Falcons had a playoff game to get into the Absurdly Premature Playoff Picture against the Bears, and they won that, so they're in. It was still close between Green Bay and Chicago, but again, I'll ride with the quarterback I like better. In this case, it's Aaron Rodgers(notes).

• I should note, though, that I still think Philadelphia, when playing with some semblance of motivation, is better than either of those two teams. I won't reward them for losing to the Raiders, though. That should count as two losses in the standings. And if they lose to Washington on Monday night, that should count as four. With automatic elimination from the playoffs.

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